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January 10, 2009


Brooks Jordan


You're absolutely right about this - it's time to start telling this positive vision. All of us. And prospering from it.


Personally, I think that the youths should be more involved in crafting that vision of a greener present.
It's ironic that businesses view going green as hurting the bottomline, when it's actually possible to cut costs (through energy efficiency, materials usage) and increasing the "green" value of the company.

Amy Belanger


I hope Obama's transition team is consulting with you and Strategies for the Green Economy. If not, let's make sure they do. It was great meeting you at the Green Business Conference in San Francisco.

Amy Belanger
Deputy Director, Green Business Network
Green America (formerly Co-op America)

Mike Kilroy

Great post, Joel.

I keep thinking we've seen the mortgage bubble, the Internet bubble, etc., etc. But we're really ending now is the nature bubble -- nature is not going to let us continue the practices of the past 150 years of the industrial revolution. And those countries and companies who understand that first and execute will win. If the U.S. does it, we can sell our technology and processes to China and India who are drowning in their own waste.

But we are still a "frontier" nation if only in our minds, and much of the country still thinks the world is inexaustible for our pollution and for our production. It's not. How to convince them of that is and has been the huge conundrum.


I think part of the vision of what this new world will look like is also told well by Tom Friedman in "Hot, Flat and Crowded" with a variety of reasons why it's not just a good idea, it is THE idea for survival and prosperity.
I also think that if you pay attention, there is much written out there about different pieces of this vision for the future, that unites disparate but complementary values of home, hearth, self-reliance, community, prosperity, faith, etc. in the local food, organic, nature for students, new business models, spending on quality not quantity, "decluttering and simplifying." It's no accident that you are seeing these complementary messages coming from all corners at a time when internet and social networking makes getting a message out and connecting so much easier. It is truly a time of transition - and hope along with empowerment - we thought it might be closer to the millennium, but sometimes things have to get worse, before they get better.
" Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the minde can achieve" - Napoleon Hill


YES!!! Perhaps your best blog entry to date. Thanks and keep up the great work.


A little note about the vision and I don't know if Jones addresses this:

We must recognize that all is related, ie, we are all relatives--every species as well as speck of soil. We must begin to see creation including humanity as sacred and treat it as such as our second nature.

Thanks Joel!


Shlomit Tassa

Dear Joel,

Ironically, it seems safer to continue damaging the planet than to change something and be damned as a greenwasher. I think that public opinion has become so critical that it does not differentiate between true greenwashing and negative results of trying to do the right thing. There are complex implications to any changes to the ecological system, and sometimes companies try to do good, but the results later prove to be damaging and the company gets slapped by the public. I think this brings many companies to a standstill. As we, the general public, embrace this positive vision you describe, we also have to accept that mistakes *need* to be made, both by government and industry. The important thing is that we move forward, try, change, innovate, learn from our mistakes, share our successes, and by so doing, we'll build a green future by shaking up the present.

Thanks for a very inspiring post!


Thank you for that thought! I don't know how, in this personal trainer overrun world, in the age of positive thinking nobody has thought about making a positive vision for a greener future!
So refreshing.
And so important.I am not much of a visionary, but I think green needs to be marketed like everything else, and in order for people to hop one board it should be made as sexy as possible.

Morgan Daly

Awesome post Joel,

I have had similar thoughts to yours on this subject. If only I were so articulate. I used to frame it as World Peace One. At the time I was thinking in response to the Invasion of Iraq but the idea is similar in not so much thinking about what we don't want and therefor avoiding it but imagining what we do want and taking real steps to creating it.

My partner and I used to ask ourselves the question: "When all the wars are over, how will the anti-war protester define themselves?"

Love your work Joel. I will be checking out Van Jones now. Thanks!

Sean Burke

Thank you Joel for a great post. I enjoyed the read. And a very nice tip about Van Jones and “The Green-Collar Economy”.

I have just taken a look on the Van Jones website and, interestingly, I can’t seem to find it in electronic format. So... does a book need to be printed on paper? Or for that matter... is the pollution I generate (my carbon footprint) via the electricity I require to allow me to read a book on-line less or greater than the carbon footprint of the paper production, printing and global distribution of a book? Surely some wise scientist looks into this type of “stuff”. But just for sake of argument - for anyone who has a copy of the hardcover in front of them - what type of paper has the book been printed with; what type of ink; and where was it printed? Does the book state whether the paper has been produced and / or the book been printed in facilities that have been ISO14000 certified? And is there any mention of where the book was printed and what measures were taken to reduce the carbon footprint during the global distribution of the book. I make reference to all of this with regard to your own point: “How much of your own personal and professional currency are you willing to expend to help not merely portray this good, green vision but also to ensure it becomes reality?” All of the details of printing, production, etc can be influenced by an author. I am sure Van Jones looked into many of them - even if this is not clearly stated within the book.

One vision of the future for me: books and text media will be printed on recycled paper using environmentally friendly ink and printing processes. In addition, the need for long distance distribution will be minimized due to the printing of the books being conducted in a decentralized network of national certified printing facilities - thereby decreasing the need to send books by ship to the reader, in what ever country he or she may be.

In the same vein, take a look at the book “The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating”. This is a very nice and appropriate community vision that we should all incorporate into our own lives. It would be great to see some websites that list where you can buy your local produce; and which restaurants cook with local produce. A small review / article of the book is written here: http://www.streeteditors.com/archives/2486. And in response to the book review, the writers on the site created the “100-mile diet challenge”. The following link describes the challenge with some additional follow up links about their successes: http://www.streeteditors.com/archives/2688

I also found a few interesting points regarding eco-friendly printing on this site: http://www.greenink.com/program/program.php

Finally, relevant to “The Green-Collar-Economy”, on the “Green for All” website is a personal and community study guide of the book. Here is the link: http://www.greenforall.org/resources/the-green-collar-economy/bookguide/download. One of the exercises is for the reader to take some time to write a “green” vision for their own community.

Regarding Obama’s responsibility in “fixing” all of this. I understand that Obama is the “saviour” of America and in many cases the world: however the more pressure of hope, expectation, vision and success that is pinned to him, the more likely he will “fail”. You articulate this point in a more succinct manner by making reference to Van Jones’ quote: “Barack Obama helped us take America back. Now we have to help him take America forward.” So that said, what visions do you have for your own local community and family life?

As for success? I think in ways, it is a matter of reframing our perspectives of success. And of course, understanding that success in the green / environmental sense is not just limited to your community, state, province, or nation - it covers the global community of people, governments and industry. Of course it makes perfect sense to me to spend an extra $20 on a fluorescent globe; however whilst that globe is made in an under-developed country yet financed by first-world entrepreneurs of the environmental movement, making them both look good and make a lot of money - this is still not quite success in the global sense of the “environmental success” paradigm that we are trying to achieve.

That said, the simple act of discussion, generated by souls such as yourself, helps our friends, colleagues, peers and leaders to think and then take steps toward making that “green” vision more of a reality. Thank you once again for your enjoyable posting.

Morgan Daly

In response to Sean on book printing.

I think it was the guy that is behind the 'Library of [insert name here] project to get all the written text on the planet online. One of his dreams is for book vans to be printing books on demand. From memory in the talk I was listening to he was questioned about the environmental impacts of printing books. He responded pointing out that it is about demand. Consider the masses of Newspaper printed everyday and yet so little of the paper is actually read by the purchaser. How cool if you could just print on demand the property section before heading out for your Sunday coffee.

Nils Davis

Joel - fantastic article! At my green building salon last night one of the participants said the problem was "perception" - perception that green is more expensive or that it requires privation.

Silicon Valley may be way ahead of the rest of the nation in terms of our perception that "green is just an obvious thing to do" (after all, we had a green building salon). But a big challenge for the green movement is to change that perception in the rest of the country.

Pam Strayer

I would recommend to anyone interested in The Vision Thing to read Huey Johnson's excellent Green Plans book, see him on Fora.tv (from his LongNow.org talk), see RRI's ppts on Dutch, New Zealand and Mexico City green plans on slideshare.net (http://www.slideshare.net/RRI/slideshows), catch the upcoming Bioneers webcast on rri.org, or subscribe to or see the Green Plans videos on RRI's YouTube channel. Huey Johnson won the 2001 UN Environment Prize for his deep understanding of sustainability, which he has devoted many of his 75 years developing. He served as head of California's resources management office during the Jerry Brown administration. His close friend and supporter, Yvon Chouinard, has sent copies of the Green Plans book to Obama, et al, but it should be widely read!

Brian Setzler

Der Joel,

I too would love to see President Obama take leadership to create a new economy but what I fear, is that he won't take on either the multi-national corporations or Wall Street. A "green revolution" that leaves these institutions in place will not succeed.

David Korten has just published (1/23/09), "Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth", which I highly recommend to you and your readers.

Van Jones' vision of a green economy is about the creation of Real Wealth, but the total system outcome (pollution, poverty, resource use and allocation, etc.) will not be "green" if we allow it to be co-opted by Wall Street and financial speculators.

Wall Street and the financial speculators have fooled us into thinking that pushing paper around creates wealth. These folks merely create what Korten calls Phantom Wealth while appropriating large claims against the Real Wealth created by workers and Main Street businesses.

David Korten's book includes a speech he'd love to hear President Obama deliver to the world. It contains all the elements of Van Jones' vision, but goes much, much further towards systemic change.

We have a system problem. We need a system solution.

Brian C. Setzler, MBA, CPA
Founder of TriLibrium



Joel - thanks for the insightful post. I would like to mention one common mistake that is a particular case of the lack of "positive vision" i believe you are talking about. An example: when confronted with strong arguments in favor of organic food, people often react by saying something along these lines: "Its very nice for you yuppies to buy your $5-a-piece organic apples, but really going organic would mean starvation for hundreds of millions, since industrialized farming is so much more effective in getting quantity (if not always quality) out of the ground."
On the face of it, this sounds like a difficult argument to refute, but in reality it is an instance of a common fallacy when reacting to innovation. The person resisting an innovative idea depicts a horrible picture of a future with your idea implemented **assuming that all else will remain equal**. Yes, it is true that if the health situation, government spending, economic structures and farming technologies stay as they are today, then switching the entire world (or even country) to organic is not viable, but as part of a total new vision of what all these could be - and here this ties in so strongly with your post, Joel - then it makes all the sense in the world. That is why the different "green" initiatives need to unite into a coherent total vision - not only because they have an accumulated effect, but also because many of them depend on many of the others for their viability.

ganhar dinheiro

Great post ! i've already subscribed to your feed. Thanks.

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